Park Service Announces Final Rule To Continue Winter Access To Yellowstone National Park
JACKSON HOLE, WY (October 24, 2013) -- The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the release of a final Rule/Regulation for Winter Use of Yellowstone. The publishing of the final Rule officially completes the Winter Use Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) process. The final Rule assures continued access to Yellowstone in Winter by both snowmobiles and snowcoaches.
The creation of a "New Final Regulation" to implement the Record of Decision (ROD) was published in the Federal Register on October 22, 2013.
And now for the Good News. The Final Rule/Regulation for Winter Use shows that our collective comments on the "Proposed Rule", which ended June 17, 2013, have been heard. The Final Rule will provide a framework for more effectively managed access for snowmobiles and snowcoaches in Yellowstone National Park while minimizing impacts on visitors, air/sound quality, and wildlife. This final regulation, will guide management of winter use in the Park and will implement the preferred alternative from the Final SEIS.
Under the final Rule, the winter of 2013/2014 will be a transition year during which the Park will allow motorized over-snow travel under the same conditions in place for the past four winters. Up to 318 commercially guided Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snowcoaches will be allowed daily.
Starting in the 2014/2015 winter season the Park would permit up to 110 "transportation events" daily, initially defined as one snowcoach or a group of up to 10 snowmobiles, averaging seven snowmobiles per group, per season. Up to 50 transportation events may be groups of snowmobiles. Management by transportation events is an impact-centric approach designed to minimize the impact of oversnow vehicles (OSVs) on air quality, soundscapes, and wildlife; rather than focusing solely on the number of vehicles entering the Park.
This new, practical approach to OSV management by "transportation events" will provide greater flexibility for OSV commercial tour operators, reward future OSV technological innovations, and reduce OSV- caused environmental impacts, all while making the park cleaner and quieter than previously authorized.
Another important part of the final Rule is that four transportation events per day (one per gate) would be reserved for non-commercially guided snowmobile access, and Sylvan Pass would continue to be operated in accordance with the Sylvan Pass Working Group Agreement. The non-commercially guided access will provide snowmobilers a chance to visit their Park without hiring a commercial guide.
The final good news is that, with the final Rule for Winter Use in place, Yellowstone National Park will open its gates for another winter season on December 15th. Please make plans to enjoy your National Park this Winter.
Check back here frequently (you can use the shortcut: www.saveyellowstonepark.org), as the BlueRibbon Coalition will provide current information as it becomes available.
Additional information and an electric copy of the final Plan/SEIS and
Rule are available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yell.
The Park Service news release on this issue can be viewed HERE.
The Final Regulation Winter Use document can be viewed HERE.
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